The Chief of the Australian Army has released a video message “about ongoing investigations into a group of officers and NCOs whose conduct, if proven, has not only brought the Australian Army into disrepute, but has let down every one of you and all of those whose past service has won the respect of our nation.”

My favorite part starts at 2:18

I will be ruthless in ridding the Army of people who cannot live up to its values, and I need every one of you to support me in achieving this.

I believe the statement is in response to the sexist emails discussed in this BBC report.

11 Responses to “How you say “UCI” in Australian”

  1. Christopher Mathews says:

    I found the part beginning at 1:30 pretty succinct:  “Female soldiers and officers have proven themselves worthy of the best traditions of the Australian Army.  They are vital to us maintaining our capability now and into the future.  If that does not suit you, then get out.”

  2. Navy JAG says:

    I think these are appropriate comments.  Or if not, then we seriously need to rethink keeping criminal prosecutions within the military.  If our leadership can’t set a strong tone on sexual assault (or any other issue) without being accused of UCI, then their ability to control good order and discipline is weakened.  The major argument for keeping the status quo is supremacy of command and good order and discipline, but our over-sensitivity to UCI means that our courts-martial are causing more harm than good (at least with regard to sexual assault).  And if the argument is that UCI is only triggered with a few magic words (e.g. POTUS: “dishonorable discharge”) then I think we’re being too nit-picky and JAG’ing it up.  We aren’t empowering our commanders by making them walk on eggshells.  Time for a change?

  3. Paleo says:

    In the latest NDAA the Army will take an overall reduction of 5.8% in personnel; the USMC takes a good size hit; the Navy and USAF are already close to their projected end strength for downsizing. The Army and the USMC are getting slashed hard. The overall DOD cut is about 3%. The GO/FO population which is still about 4x what it was in WWII on a ratio of GO/FO to others comparison, is taking a reduction of 1.5%.
    Those ostensibly receiving so much heat for sexual assault, command influence, and poor leadership, NOT getting penalized or fired at the same rate as those they lead, AND, their excess numbers yet resoundingly poor leadership is further proof of their need to get fired. Yet they are not being fired. What service chief has been let go? The reduction of that part of the military, which is without doubt the most costly subgroup of our personnel costs, lags behind the rest of the military by a wide margin. Congress is all bark and no bite. 
    If you think these commanders are walking on eggshells, you’re mistaken. They’re not, and the 2013 and 2014 NDAAs prove it. The worst thing for the military right now, are empowered commanders. These are the group of commanders that built the force that entered the GWOT, lead it for a decade, now bring it back home and the state of the services is rather poor. Morale is sagging, suicide rates are deplorable, administration of justice is laughable, budget discipline continues to evade them and by their own declarations key skills and abilities have been eroded. They’re the ones in charge. If there are problems, shouldn’t they be the first ones fired? If such job security in the face of deplorable performance constitutes eggshell walking, then we should all be so lucky. 

  4. k fischer says:

    There was not a wasted word in that announcement, and he pretty much hit the nail on the head.  
    If Congress takes prosecutorial discretion away from Commanders and places it in the hands of independent military prosecutors, then would Article 37 still prohibit these statements?  Does the Australian UCMJ have an Article 37 equivalent?

  5. Stephen Wilson says:

    This is leadership!

  6. k fischer says:

    Here is an interesting article on the Australian video with a comparison to the United States military justice system.

  7. Ex TC says:

    How sad that the title of this type of post is UCI when its message is straightforward and aimed at curing an ill within a military that is probably corrosive and impacts combat efficiency. People look for UCI under every rock and find what they are looking for because they label everything UCI. 

  8. k fischer says:

    Ex TC,
    I think that his statements would be a violation of Article 37 of the US UCMJ.  I think the quote that Zachary listed above could be construed as a call to action by all those who are sitting on a court-martial panel to give a punitive discharge.
    Now the Australians have placed prosecutorial discretion in the hands of those other than Commanders, so perhaps these statements are not directed towards jurors or panel members.  He appears to be a little more upset by those officers who chose to delete the e-mails, rather than reporting the e-mails to him.  That’s why he needs everyone’s help in ridding the Army of this scourge.
    Perhaps the issue is with Article 37.  Take away Article 37, then Commanders can make these kinds of statements.  Of course, a Servicemember’s right to a fair trial would probably go to the wayside, but nobody really cares about the rights of those who are facing court-martial, except for those dirty defense counsel, right?

  9. Atticus says:

    I could swear I heard some of his first words as being, “If proven …”  This is not UCI.  I would love to serve under somebody like General Morrison.  He actually seems to care about his people.  I say when we leap to conclusions and presume that we know what is the minds of members, we insult their intelligencve and professionalism. We have a very good and effective tool for ferreting out whether the “I” in UCI is actually present; it is called voir dire.  And judges have lots of tools to remove it from any case, including giving the sides multiple challenges and making the CA send over more people until you have a panel free from any ill-effects.  I belive if you follow this process you might actually uncover 1-2 percent of your members who actually are effected by these comments, and the same is true for the President’s comments.  I honestly think the chances of any member being influenced is quite remote.     

  10. Zachary D Spilman says:

    I do see this as the type of call to punitive action that is prohibited by the UCMJ.

    Whatever the underlying misconduct (insensitive emails, outright harassment, or worse), I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the leadership expressing disapproval for the conduct, promoting institutional values, and generally promising appropriate investigative and consequential action. Frankly, I expect all of those things.

    But when you say something like “I will be ruthless in ridding the Army of people who cannot live up to its values…,” I begin to wonder just what kind of values we’re talking about.

    What about training and mentoring? What about avoiding the zero defect mentality? What about compassion? What about a modern military’s duty to make people better before sending them back to society? What about the fact that the institutional values that make an organization exceptional aren’t inherent, they’re inherited?

    It’s easy to look down and wonder, “what’s wrong with these people?” It’s much harder to wonder, “where did I go wrong?” But that self-examination is as important a leadership trait as any, if not more so.

    I have two boys, ages four and six, who are my mirror. And if I were to treat them with ruthlessness, you would rightly question the lawfulness of my actions.

  11. Christopher Mathews says:

    @ Zach – If you ordered them to storm a beach or charge into machine gun fire, you’d probably have some issues, too.